EC Final post (due Monday, Dec. 5 by midnight; EC comments due Wednesday by midnight)

This post may be a little trickier to write than most, because I’m asking you to combine several strands of thought.  But it should be interesting, so have fun!

Look back over your experience of this semester (course goals, readings, essays, discussions, blog posts. . .).  Have your ideas about your writing or your education changed in any significant way?  You might consider your approach to writing, your voice, your ideas about theory or about literary studies more generally, your arguments for the relevance of the humanities in a world that often seems to favor STEM. . .whatever is relevant to you, at this moment in your educational career. Encapsulate your thinking in one well-crafted, creative final post. 

No restrictions in this final week—prose of whatever length, verse, art images, or a clip of your own interpretive dance, or whatever effectively communicates the story you seek to tell.

The Power of Prose

In May, I left school as a biochemistry major. It was in the final moments of spring semester, once my last final was submitted, that I realized I was unhappy. When every second was stacked full of chemistry exams, calculus homework, and an endless stream of identical biology quizlets, it was impossible to notice the dread I realized was obscuring the rest of my life. The truth was, I hated Chemistry and I hated Biology.

All year, late each night, and for as long I could keep my lids peeled above my irises, I read. Over the course of the year, I read 50 books. And at each and every book, no matter the content, I sobbed my eyes out at the final page. In that final sleepless week, I picked up a poem collection by Sylvia Plath titled Ariel. And if you have read Sylvia Plath you will know that her writing is not necessarily joyful. The book contained many themes of death and despair; but at the time, the recurring themes of regret spoke to me the most. She expressed how easy it is to feel regret about one’s life, and how torturing it is to spend life doing something without purpose.

 The final line of the final poem in the book, titled “Wintering”, reads:

“Will the hive survive, will the gladiolas

Succeed in banking their fires

To enter another year?

What will they taste of, the Christmas roses?

The bees are flying. They taste the spring.” 

These lines release Sylvia of her worry about her lasting legacy as a mother and more so as a writer. This poem was written in the days leading up to her death, yet she chose to end it with hope. 

Of course, it caused me to bawl for several minutes. And it also caused me to come to two realizations. First, if something has such a powerful influence over my heart, that I tear up during every interaction, then perhaps that is my purpose. And secondly, I considered the idea of my lasting impact on the world, and I knew firmly that I did not want to be known for Chemistry. 

This month I happened to pick up Ariel again. When I flipped through the small book, what I took away was no longer despair and grief. Instead, I studied the prose and dove deeply into her complicated language. Once again, I noticed regret, but it flitted by. No longer a concern of mine. 

A year and a half in Wooster

I grew up in Beijing, the capital and largest city of China, so when I first came to Wooster I was a little bored. I didn’t have a car and wasn’t interested in parties, so walking around campus or playing games alone in my dorm was my only entertainment on Friday nights.

As time went on, I gradually adapted to the place. I found such a simple environment very conducive to learning, and that was the most important purpose for which I had crossed 10,000 kilometers, waited for three years (I had studied at a Chinese university and then dropped out for various reasons), and spent high tuition fees. In addition, I found that such an environment also made it very simple and I hardly spent any time struggling with others.

Even so, Wooster is nowhere near the status of Beijing in my heart, I always miss the family, friends, culture, food, easy access to transportation, etc.

But due to the overly expensive airfare and the almost month-long quarantine policy, I chose to stay here for the summer. Many other Chinese students made the same decision as I did, and it was a very special time for us because it was real-time where you “live” with your classmates (not just study together or have fun together), and we shopped, cooked, talked, walked, played board games, and had a lot of fun together every day.

This semester, I was getting more and more comfortable with the classroom. I remember that at the beginning of my freshman year, I was afraid of group discussions and presentations, and sometimes I couldn’t say a single word. Now although I am still not as good as a native speaker, but I have made a lot of progress compared to my previous self in these two tasks.

In this class (ENGL-20000) and another class called Gender, Genre, and History, I was exposed to a lot of knowledge about “power and gender”, which is rarely talked about in China nowadays, so it was an intellectual innovation for me. When I used this knowledge to look at some literary works and social issues, I gained more perspective. I hope that when I return to China, I can bring this knowledge back with me, so that more people can learn about it and understand it, and so that society can develop in a more equitable and harmonious direction.

I plan to graduate in three years, so I’m already halfway through my time here. One day, a year and a half from now, I can imagine carrying my bags into the trunk, wiping the tears from the corner of my left eye, putting on See You Again, and waiting for the driver to drive me to the airport in Cleveland.